Leeds nostalgia: Horsforthians up-in-arms after release of war film U571 in 2000

27th April 2007. Nardia Baker from Cambridge University visted Abbey Grange High School with an Enigma machine used in World War Two.
27th April 2007. Nardia Baker from Cambridge University visted Abbey Grange High School with an Enigma machine used in World War Two.
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The people of Horsforth were up-in-arms after the screening of a new war film, U-571, which purported to tell the story of how the German Enigma code machine was stolen during the Second World War.

The film tells the story of the HMS Aubretia, paid for entirely by the people of Horsforth, with £241,000, following a fundraising drive. In 1941, it attacked a German sumarine U-110, resulting in the recovery of the infamous code machine.

Universal Pictures, however, wanted to swap the British ships for American ones, which led to interventions from locals and Pudsey MP Paul Truswell.

Two others, David Balme, the office who recovered the Enigma machine and second officer Sir Barry Sheen, were drafted in to act as advisors.

Sir Barry said: “The film was very well done. However, it is clearly a work of pure fiction and nobody could reasonably see it as an attempt to rewrite the incident in which Aubretia was involved.”

However, despite acknowledging some of the changes made to the historical account by the filmmakers, Mr Truswell concluded: “It is an enjoyable piece of Boys’ Open-type Hollywood hokum that stretches credibility, rather than history, to breaking point.”

The film starred Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.

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